Home > All the Queen's Men (CIA Spies #2)(15)

All the Queen's Men (CIA Spies #2)(15)
Author: Linda Howard

Her throat worked. "John Medina is ... just a legend," she said, her voice strained, and he knew she had indeed heard of him.

"Thank you," he replied casually, "though I don't know if I like the word 'just.' I'm real enough. Want to bite me to prove it?" He sat down on the edge of Frank's desk, one foot swinging, his posture totally relaxed despite the tension screaming through him.

"I thought pinching was the proven method."

"I prefer biting."

Color tinged her cheeks, but she didn't look away "Your eyes were brown," she accused. "Now they're blue."

"Colored contacts. Blue is the real color of my eyes."

"Or you're wearing colored contacts now."

"Come look," he invited. As he had expected, though, she didn't want to get that dose to him.

She gathered her composure and sank back into her chair. She crossed her legs, her posture as relaxed as his. Maybe more so; her movement riveted his attention on her legs, on the few inches of thigh she had revealed. He hadn't seen her legs before; she had worn pants, and often those had been modestly covered by the chador. They were very nice legs: slender, shapely, lightly tanned. She still looked to be in very good shape, as if she worked out regularly.

Abruptly aware of the response of his body, John snapped himself back under control. He glanced up and found her watching him, and automatically wondered if she had crossed her legs to distract him. If so, it had worked. He was irritated at himself, because sex was one of the oldest, most hackneyed distractions, and still he had let himself slip.

Frank opened the door, breaking the silence between them. He carried a tray on which there was a large thermos of coffee and three cups, but no sugar or cream. "Have you two introduced yourselves?" he asked smoothly, glancing at John so he could take the lead in giving Niema whatever name he chose.

"He says his name is really John Medina," Niema said. Her voice was cool and calm, and once again John had to admire her poise. "Five years ago I knew him as Darrell Tucker."

Frank flashed John another glance, this one full of surprise that he had so quickly revealed his true identity. "He goes by a lot of names; it's part of his job description."

"Then John Medina may be an alias, too."

"I can't give you any comfort there," Frank said with wry humor. "I've known him most of his life, and he's the real McCoy-or Medina, in this case."

John watched her absorb that, saw the quick suspicion in her eyes that Frank might be lying, as well. She wasn't a naive, trusting little soul, but neither was she experienced at completely hiding her thoughts and emotions.

"Why am I here?" she asked abruptly, switching her gaze to John.

Frank drew her attention back to him. "We have a ... situation." He poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her.

"How does that involve me? Could I have some cream and sugar, please?"

The simple question rattled Frank, unused as he was to domestic duties. He gave the tray a panicked glance, as if he hoped the requested items would materialize.

"Ah... I-"

"Never mind," she said, and composedly sipped her black coffee. "I can drink it like this. What's this situation?"

John restrained a bark of laughter. As he remembered very well, she always drank her coffee black. This was just Niema needling Frank a little, getting back at him for setting her up for such a shock. She had always been able to hold her own with the team, and the realization was still as surprising now as it had been then, because she looked like such a lady.

Frank looked at him as if asking for his help. John shrugged. This was Frank's little show, let him run it. He had no idea why Niema was there, except as Frank's heavy-handed attempt at a little matchmaking. He probably thought John needed some R and R, and since he had admitted being attracted to Niema-well, why not? Except Frank hadn't been in Iran, and he hadn't watched Niema's face while he ordered her husband to kill himself, or he would have known why not.

'Ah . . . we're very interested in the work you've been doing. An undetectable surveillance device will be invaluable. As it happens, we have an urgent need for it now. You know more about the device than anyone, since you designed it. You also have some field experience-"

"No," she interrupted. "I don't do fieldwork." She was pale again, her jaw set. She got to her feet. "If that's the only reason you wanted to talk to me, I'm sorry you wasted our mutual time. A phone call would have sufficed, and you could have saved yourself the trouble of bringing me here." She paused, then murmured ironically, "Wherever here is."

"You haven't heard all the details," Frank said, shooting another quick look at John. "And you are, might I add, an employee of the Agency, not a freelance contract agent."

"Are you going to fire her if she turns you down?" John asked interestedly, just to pin Frank down and make him squirm some more.

"No, of course not-"

"Then we have nothing more to discuss," she said firmly. "Please have me taken home."

Frank sighed, and gave up. "Of course. I apologize for the inconvenience, Mrs. Burdock." He wasn't a man accustomed to apology, but he did it well.

John let him reach for the phone before he interrupted. "Don't bother," he said easily, abandoning his lazy sprawl against the desk. "I'll drive her home."

Chapter Six

Niema got into the car and buckled her seat belt. "Shouldn't I be blindfolded or something?" she asked wryly, and she was only half joking. The garage door in front of them slid up and he pulled out, then turned left onto the street.

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